Petition to Remove LCP from AJMLS's Required 1L Curriculum
Legal Communication and Process (“LCP”), is a required course for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School. LCP hinders 1L students in many aspects, and is more of a detriment to students than a benefit. This course should be removed from Atlanta's John Marshall Law School's curriculum in order to ensure that 1L students are properly prepared and knowledgeable on how to analyze and discuss issues on final exams, and writing assignments in non-writing courses.
1) LCP focuses on aspects of writing that should already be known upon entering law school (i.e. proper verb tense, punctuation, "dovetailing," etc.). If the student struggles with these areas of writing, they should be placed in a course similar to LCP after their first semester of Legal Writing I. Additionally, many of the writing tools taught in LCP (aside from grammar) are not useful for true legal writing. While these tools may be beneficial for office or in-house memos, they are in no way beneficial to true legal writing, and teaching students to use these tools, while at the same time telling them that they should not “fluff” their writing is contradictory and incomprehensible.
2) LCP does not adequately prepare 1L students for the writing portions of their finals, nor does it provide any substantive learning benefits for 1L students. LCP hinders 1L students from learning the essential legal writing tools that are taught in Legal Writing I, and as a result, 1L students are disadvantaged in finals during their first semester because the lack of writing skills. It places an unfair burden on students to learn writing skills essential for the essay portion of finals because these skills are not properly taught in LCP, and as a result, 1L students suffer severe grade penalties due to their lack of knowledge on how to adequately write and analyze the issues raised in the finals for various courses.
3) The writing “assignments” given to LCP students are in no way beneficial or useful, as they force students to correct the errors of someone else’s writing rather than their own. Students cannot learn how to adjust and correct their own writing errors by fixing someone else’s writing, and this makes it harder for students to retain the skills LCP is designed to teach. Additionally, students are given assignments where they can lose points for not providing an answer that the rubric calls for, despite the student’s answer being technically correct.
4) LCP also hinders students who intend to transfer out of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, because unlike the typical law school curriculum which designates Legal Writing I for the first semester, and Legal Writing II for the second semester, students at John Marshall are only able to obtain credit for one Legal Writing course that they take during their spring semester.
5) LCP does not adequately prepare students for the final exam in the course that is worth 500 points, and half of the students grade. The syllabus for LCP courses designates the bare minimum (roughly 3-5 classes) to “prepare” for the midterm and final exam, which consists of writing samples from prior MPT tests. Unlike finals for normal 3 credit hour courses that are given 3 hours to complete finals, LCP designates only 90 minutes for the final writing essay. It is an unfair policy to demand that 1L students, in their first semester of law school, to provide a thorough analysis of the issues raised in the MPT sample worth half of the students grade. Students are forced to rush in order to complete their final within the designated 90 minute time constraints, and as a result, they are unable to write a proper response. The school has offered no explanation for why this 3 credit hour course is only allotted 90 minutes to complete the final, whereas other 3 credit hour courses are given double that amount of time.
6) LCP is a required course for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, however, the course is not ABA accredited, and while the grade for the course is considered part of a student’s GPA, the course itself does not transfer to outside law schools. Students are forced to pay for a course that hinders their education, and have no ability to opt out of this course in order to enroll in Legal Writing I instead.
7) LCP grades are based on a comparison of the grades in all of the classes, regardless of the fact that they are taught by different teachers. Students are at an unfair advantage because of the grading scale that Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School has chosen to abide by, and a student with a high grade prior to the final may see their grade drop tremendously after the final, merely because their grades are compared against those of students in other classes, rather than the students in their own class.
In sum, LCP is a detriment to 1L students and should be removed from Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School’s curriculum.